On May 19th 2018, The Royal Academy will open it’s doors once again to celebrate its 250th Anniversary but we were lucky enough to get a sneak peek this week.
Arriving for the press preview with Laura Porter on a very sunny day, the RA was doing it’s best from the outside to show off despite some of the construction still going on but it was really the inside I was interested in because the RA recently has a major redevelopment to expand the physical space and also their programming. Now, there truly is something for everyone!
Let’s be clear, the RA has been and always will be for everyone, but because it was always ticketed events, not everyone felt they could afford to go. The new Weston Bridge between Burlington House and Burlington Gardens completely transforms it! There is now 70% more public space.
I personally loved how architects David Chipperfield managed to be sympathetic to the old of the building whilst folding new and progression throughout, details of which could be seen throughout the RA.
There were many highlights:
Collection Gallery – which is completely free to the public – will show a lot (obviously not all) art that used to be behind the scenes or in storage. For example:
Michelangelo’s Taddei Tondo
Full scale copy of Leonardo’s Last Supper (which when Laura and I were looking at it a lot of press asked us to stay and take more pictures …
Maurice Davies, Head of Collections in a recent interview said they wanted the Collection Gallery ‘There’s a great temptation to use the Collection Gallery as an opportunity to teach art history, but the most important thing I want people to do is to look closely at the works of art. Teaching history and telling stories should be done in a way that encourages people actually to look at the works.’ (RA250 magazine)
Benjamin West Lecture Theatre – an amazing space that didn’t exist before. Actually there was a floor that ran over the top before the architects managed to create this amazing theatre! Creating a space where people can have discussions which is engaging and open will make such a difference! There are 259 seats and very accessible (despite the steps).
I was also impressed that right next to the Dorfman Senate Cafe you can find the Architecture Studio. A creative space that will involve and invite audience engagement. It was still being set up when we were there but we were told the program will allow people bring their coffee or wine to see art. Again, open, not barriers!
I failed to take pictures of the new learning center but once a month they host free drop in sessions for children of all ages!
Also, lets all admit, RA has always been good about picture taking.
I’m going to end with the most impressive press release ever – a ‘Royal Academy of Arts in Numbers’
- 1 Annual rent for Burlington House is £1 on a lease for 999 years
- 2 Female founders of the RA
- 3 Number of years students in RA schools study (and was it mentioned they go for free?)
- 4 Officers of the RA
- 5 Top 5 paid for exhibitions in London in the last 10 years
- 12 Red Collars, RA security team
- 10 Temp exhibitions for 2018
- 12.7 Million pounds from National Lottery for redevelopment
- 13 Royal Academicians sit on the council
- 17 Artists are the maximum number per year admitted
- 22 Artists and architects signed a petition calling for King George III to support RA
- 26 26th President is currently Christopher Le Brun
- 36 Artists and Architects signed Instrument of Foundation to establish RA December 10 1768
- 50 Students taking part in only free 3 year postgrad art course
- SKIPPING SOME
- 230 Objects from RA Collections will be on free display from 2018
- 250 Obviously years of the RA